It’s oh so quiet…

G’day, hej, ‘sup bro?

Happy Sunday. Up and at ’em by 09.36 – I don’t think this has happened on a personal level since 1996.

Once upon a time, I worked as an upper secondary high school English teacher (a job which I definitely should have not had, due to lack of, erm, a teaching degree). A happy accident which materialised now and then was the odd snippet of profundity coming from my class of gloriously vaccuous young adults. One sweetheart wrote an essay for me where she described “that special time in the morning when no one else is awake, where you can be your uncensored self”.

You always hear about writers having bursts of productivity late into the night. Perhaps it’s the dwindling Scandinavian light at this time of the year, but my ‘scribe clock’ goes off far too early to produce a well-balanced mindset for the day ahead. Or maybe it has something to do with day jobs where you’re surrounded by people, and then living with a partner – where do you substitute the buzz for concentrated periods of writing/blogging/composing? Having said that, I’m banging on about solitude while blasting my Beats By Dre – which begs another question…

Noise. One of life’s greatest pleasures is commuting with music. But how many inspirational moments (READ: eavesdropping opportunities) does one miss by being constantly tuned out? I suppose that’s a nostalgic starting point; once upon a time, the 6am sun filtered through the glass, sending Michael into his morning reverie. He smiled enigmatically through closed eyes, contemplating last night’s farewe –

“OH. EM. GEE. Have you seen that new nail bar? I was in the middle of grocery shopping but I was like, “Honey, take the kids right now, I’m gonna get me a gel mani…”

And just like that, Michael gave up his introspective reflection on human relationships, took out his 4S, slapped in his earbuds and took comfort in the high decibel stylings of Rammstein.

Well, that was easy!

…almost notching up a year-long hiatus. How you doing, dear reader? Advance warning; I hope this post doesn’t leave you with the feeling I’m rambling, which as you can already see, I am. Some suspiciously potent Pimms punch be to blame. Anyhoo. En route home from the Pimms-hosting friends, I found myself nonsensically transfixed by some spangly gloves (mine) reflecting some sort of mythic light (from the lamp post which heralds the beginning of my street). After at least seven minutes of inner dialogue (“Are you not 28? What kind of grown up buys gloves with a surface area of ostentatious, faux gold dots?”), a word came to mind…

Richness. 

I don’t mean wealth, prosperity or any of that shit. Just the feeling of being “rich” in something and feeling good about it.

I suppose the day I walked into H&M and saw those glimmery hand warmers, they must have seen me coming too (family joke – “Yeah, she’s the bowerbird”). For some reason, a cute, very inebriated friend-of-a-friend comes to mind as a good analogy – she was dancing manically to some Kanye song as her sober mates looked on and said “Right now, there is not one problem in the world!” And yeah, donning those gloves better suited to a ten year old gave the same feeling.

Being rich in love, creativity, knowledge, perspective, whatever. Don’t deny yourself the escapism of a guilty pleasure – sometimes the immaterial helps highlight the essentials*.

 

*Except where ‘essentials’ refers to ‘good taste in music’ and ‘guilty pleasure’ equates to a disturbingly insatiable addiction to the works of Thirty Seconds To Mars, but that’s a story for another day

Image

For the record

There are some who are experts at living in the moment and stopping to smell the flowers/roses/cherry blossoms. For constant collectors like yours truly, it’s easier said than done. And by ‘collector’, I probably mean ‘hoarder’. The neatly ordered viking with whom I share a home refers to it as some sort of family ‘condition’ or ‘style’ (quite diplomatically avoiding the term ‘curse’). However, I think my digital/written stores are far worse, a realisation accepted after my computer and phone recently informed me that I’m running out of hard drive and memory space.

I think it began with the mid-study crisis of 2006, which resulted in a uni mate and I planning a three-month jaunt around Europe. My old room at Mum and Dad’s is now packed with fat, dormant photo albums championing the faces of short and sweet comradeship, breathtaking moments and a smattering of not-so-different-after-all cultural experiences (a significant proportion fuelled by Guinness, absinthe and mini Heineken kegs). The 6459 pictures taken represent a quarter of 2007 – memories which at the time, I wanted to savour forever. The number of times I drift into a reverie about that trip now though, I can’t count on two hands – because it stopped happening.

It’s easier to remember when you don’t want to put something in writing; I chuckled with a friend once when she said, “I know how this sounds, and I don’t like doing it, but sometimes it’s better to call my colleagues when contentious issues come up. Then it’s hard to say, ‘Oh, but you said something else yesterday’. Sad but true”.

Then again, sometimes records are paramount. A segment of final year high school English, oddly, springs to mind. It involved a unit called History and Memory. The whole thing covered WWII, with the historical material comprising docos, academic texts and all the rest. The memorial section dealt mostly with Roberto Benigni and his performance in Life Is Beautiful. Our teacher was a genius wordsmith, but unfortunately I can only recall dry phraseology like “documented history” versus “the faculty of memory”.

However, it must have really stuck,  because taking a photo honestly feels like a compulsion. Maybe it’s true; you can miss things when all you do is to try to capture them. I found my own history/memory contrast though. Dictionary.com defines hoarding as a supply or accumulation that is hidden or carefully guarded for preservation, future use, etc. Harry Connick Jr  yin-yangs this by reflecting on Freddie Mercury: “I’m a huge Freddie Mercury fan. I think he was the end-all. I love his lack of inhibition, his talent, the chances he took. He made mistakes on his records, and he didn’t care.” Harry meant literal records, yeah, but same thing. As long as  your memories make you smile.

A snowflake I tried to save - camera had other ideas

A snowflake I tried to save – camera had other ideas

Snowflakes taken by proper shutterbug Juliancolton2 (Flickr)

Snowflakes taken by proper shutterbug Juliancolton2 (Flickr)

Rat in a cage

Is the world a vampire? It’s full of them, pop culturally, which personally, I quite like. Now dear reader, if you’re a die-hard Pumpkins fan, you might like to tune out now, or refer to Song Meanings‘ bank of interpretations from far more learned friends. Following my consumption of a number of fermented beverages this evening, I’m not going to think too hard about this post, but just lay down some reflections on one of my favourite lyrics to date – Bullet With Butterfly Wings

As far as music lovers go, I was what Aussies refer to as a blow-in; a bit late to the party with these maestros. One spontaneous evening earlier this year (a school night no less), a friend convinced me to splash out on tickets to The Smashing Pumpkins’ Sydney show on their Oceania tour. Well okay, it wasn’t spontaneous per se, I’d bought their Rotten Apples greatest hits compilation beforehand for faux street cred. I remember the first time Billy Corgan’s damning metaphor floated out of my adolescent radio, thinking it was The Offspring. It must have gone in, shacked up somewhere and worked its way into my bloodstream because by showtime 15 years later, I was jumping up and down in my seat like a 13 year old, grasping my mate’s hand and then…that darkly fluid, moody baseline. And I wasn’t ready! Completely and utterly unprepared. There was the snarl, the desperation, the misplaced prettiness of the riff, but it was all over too quickly.

I think its genius is simply that it’s an incredible “You are a big [insert adjective]/why does everything have to be such a tit right now/here’s a tune to complete my Songs to Explain Why I Dislike You Intensely playlist” release. No wonder, if you believe Wikipedia, it took from 1993 to ’95 to reach rat/cage status. And what do I get, for my pain?/Betrayed desires, and a piece of the game. Then someone will say what is lost can never be saved. Ahh.

After commiserating with my fellow concertgoer that there was no 1979, no wacky stage outfit, not as much unity in the new band at that Sydney gig, another friend pointed out that when you go to see Billy Corgan and co, you are most likely going “to see a crazy person”. What did that other guy called Billy say? “It’s the next phase, new wave, dance craze, anyways, it’s still rock and roll to me”.

Frequent coarse language*

*Not joking

I love Lieutenant Debra Morgan. She gets things done, she grapples with love, she catches killers, she agonises over miscarriages of justice. And she does it all with a horribly foul potty mouth. As you’re no doubt aware, the sister of Michael C Hall’s moonlighting murderer, Dexter, is portrayed by actress Jennifer Carpenter. Some personal off-the-cuff favourites are “Holy frankenfuck!” (in response to something going awry), “So, Miami is the haystack and the ice truck’s the needle, right? Brother, I just found the fucking needle!” (a moment of triumph) and “Oh, sweet Mary, mother of fuck, that’s good!” (on the receiving end of an excellent latte). What, from a personal perspective, is so awesome about Deb’s vernacular is perhaps not her use of metaphor and ironic biblical references, but the delivery. Let’s face it, it’s empowering to blow off some four-letter steam.

Which begs the question, is it more entertaining when someone else does it? Having grown up with a father somewhat active in the local community, my younger brother and I grew up with a maddeningly confusing approach to etiquette. Dad was incredibly well-behaved whenever we did something naughty; the first masculine swearing memory I have is my best friend’s father admonishing her for being a “little sh*t” (he was trying to put a microwave down on the kitchen bench and she wouldn’t remove her hands). Mum, however, has always been a study in profanity, with a lovely speaking voice. “Hon, you’re really not going to get that finished unless you pull your ******* finger out!”, “[in the car] Oh, ****, crunch, where did that come from?”, or just “Jesus ****!” My brother, let’s call him Lincoln (I can hear him cursing that from the southern hemisphere) is a model service-orientated employee and a hit with the ladies – or so I’m told – but his yapper – sheesh. Another intriguing subject is a beautiful friend, let’s say Sibylla. She is a golden-haired, unwaveringly pleasant lass. Sadly, I missed her 21st, but apparently, and I would have paid to see it, she hopped up on the venue’s bar at closing time, exclaiming “Alrighty, where do you **nts want to go?”

Entertainer Jim Dale notes, “I’d rather get a good clean laugh with good material, than an easy laugh by swearing or shocking. That’s not clever or comedic, anybody can get a laugh that way, it’s too easy.” George Washington was a bit stiff, but then again, he was the Prez: “The foolish and wicked practice of profane cursing and swearing is a vice so mean and low that every person of sense and character detests and despises it.” For my 21st century money though, I think I’m with Gordon Ramsay who surmises, “Swearing is industry language. For as long as we’re alive it’s not going to change. You’ve got to be boisterous to get results.” In the end, Miami Metro is the best (fictitious) police department, Mum and my bro do make me laugh, and by all reports, my friend got everyone up and dancing the night away at an undisclosed location.

Every house has its words?

Sometime during the Australian summer of 2011, I toughened up and decided that if I wanted to try my hand at writing one day, it was high time to start learning from the pros. Perhaps it was three years spent grappling with a swag of tertiary bricks, but my inner Narnia fan appeared to have wandered off, found Cair Paravel’s media room and indulged in a blissfully endless HBO merry-go-round.

Anyway, four years out of uni, I’d found myself with an unread literary stack next to my bedside. Charlaine Harris’ first three Sookie Stackhouse novels (oh, hell what a guilty pleasure – and no, the irony of True Blood‘s broadcast parentage is not lost on me), Cronulla boy Brendan Cowell’s first effort, How It Feels, Christos Tsiolkas’ blistering The SlapAll very good. Then I gave Gregory David Roberts’ Shantaram a try. Gahhhhhhhhhh. It’s.So.THICK. The way he describes Mumbai – or Bombay, as he refers to it, from memory – is beautiful. But bloody hell. Maybe I just lack the stamina, some friends adore it and happily admit to quoting extensive passages from it after a bottle of wine during a ‘quiet’ night in.

Luckily, an equally hefty, but far more riveting read found, seduced and captivated me – George R.R. Martin’s A Game of Thrones. Even after watching the TV series, it’s a treat. The sheer scope of this created world, but tempered with so many intricacies – mind-blowing. Christos Tsiolkas, up above, also takes the same multi-perspective, third person tack. While The Slap is contemporary, immediate and raw, A Game of Thrones is otherworldly and medieval, yet strangely here and now. The really cool detail is the idea (don’t worry, minimum spoilers) of every clan having its ‘words’ – for most, a motto is about branding/showing everyone you’re hardcore and badass. But for my favourite house, it’s a pensive, ominous acknowledgement that ‘winter is coming’. And d’oh, when I look outside, it is. On the bright side though, there’s no need for a Night’s Watch of demon hunting rangers.

A mission statement of sorts

Yo. So I’ve been pondering the ways to fire up this barbie – i.e. how to avoid rambling/incoherence/posts constructed of a diaspora of tangents; what my dad sometimes refers to as a penchant for making mental quantum leaps so it seems like – well, prime e.g. right there.

What I’m thinking is, everything I put up here will, hopefully, grow organically with a sprinkling of order. Which will derive from it all being able to be traced back to writing in some form – proverb, lyric, screenwriting, prose, concept, notion.

Better get cracking then! See you soon…

Let’s do it!

Hi ladies and gents,

Just a spot of shameless self promotion – I’d like to get something published one day. In a tangible form. Preferably with a very good editor, because after three hours of staring at a cover letter yesterday I ended up sending my job application with the ‘i’ missing from ‘previously’ (after a communication degree and 18 months working as a copywriter, WTF?)…

So please do enjoy – while you’re here, I hope to put a smile on your dial and provoke some thoughts, but not for a little while because I’m about to watch The Walking Dead.